Some UNC students worried about COVID-19 during return to campus

Orange County News

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (WNCN) — As the number of COVID-19 cases are still on the rise, some students at UNC-Chapel Hill are concerned whether it’s safe to return to campus.

Jalyn Howard is a graduate student at UNC and he does not think students should be returning to campus just yet.

“It seems to be worse now than it was when we left in March,” Howard said. “I don’t feel very comfortable because just thinking about how this virus progresses, we know when that many people come back in close contact with each other in those spaces that we’re probably going to see outbreaks.”

Howard said he is concerned about how the university plans to operate the dorms at normal capacity, which he argues will put the students at high risk of catching the virus.

He added that it is still not clear if students can take certain in-person classes remotely instead.

“Is it really important to return to campus just to threaten the lives of other people?” Howard said.

Officials with UNC-Chapel Hill got back with CBS 17 late Monday and said that more than 1,200 students have decided not to live on campus this fall, which means officials do not expect the dorms to be at full capacity.

UNC officials said that the university announced on July 23 that all residential students may cancel their housing contract for any reason and without penalty through August 2.

Officials added that housekeeping staffers are performing enhanced cleaning of high-touch areas (door handles, elevator buttons), common areas (laundry rooms, lounges, kitchens) and restrooms throughout each day.

UNC officials also added that they are working to provide an online option for more courses by the first day of school on August 10.

On campus on Monday, crews could be seen preparing buildings for social distancing as well.

Some doors are now “one-way” only and crews were putting up signs on the doors and sides of the buildings to let students know.

Hand sanitizer can also be found at the entrances of most buildings and masks will also be required on campus.     

While Howard realizes it is likely too late for campus leaders to change their reopening plans, he is asking the university to be prepared for the consequences that may arise if there is an outbreak on campus.

“I would like people to understand what’s at stake with students returning to campus both in terms of finances. but also in terms of lives,” Howard said.

A spokesperson with the UNC System said they have consulted with health care professionals about the best way to reopen UNC-Chapel Hill and all of the other universities.

UNC System officials said they are taking all of the necessary safety precautions and they are prepared for any potential impact that may come their way.

Click here to view the courses UNC plans to offer online.

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